I live on Hoag Road in East Johnson. I chose this beautiful and once peaceful environment as a place to raise my kids and start a business 20 years ago. But Hoag Road has now turned into a funnel for ATVs on the Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association routes. 

In the summer of 2018 ATV ridership increased drastically. 

They ride by my house in groups of 10 or more from morning until dark — spring summer and fall.

I have a rental business on my property and my rental guests claim they don’t feel safe walking with their children on the road because of the number, noise and speed of these ATVs.

When I asked the association if they would lower the speed limit from 25 to 15 on the Class 4 portion of the road so that others could enjoy it as well, it refused.

A priority on my list of house rules for my renters is to drive by my neighbors’ houses slowly and cautiously, without music blasting or engines revving. Isn’t this just common sense when you live in a community? By contrast, each ATV creates 85-100 decibels of noise, which increases depending on the group size. 

Some of the riders are courteous and respectful, and I want to say thank you to them. But there is a much larger group of riders who aren’t so kind, and I am scared of another summer of them speeding by my house.

I am troubled by their rude behavior, the trespassing and litter, the motor oil slick in the puddles and streams of the class 4 section of the road. I’m sick of being woken after 11 p.m. by their engines revving in the woods behind my house. Calling the police doesn’t help; there is no enforcement.

This coming spring the Vermont ATV Sportsman’s Association has been given permission to drive ATVs into the village of Johnson, from Gould Hill (near Union Bank), along Main Street, to Route 100C (near Maplefields). They have also been allowed to use Railroad Street to cross the Lamoille River and connect to class 3 and 4 roads on the south side of Johnson.

The next stop on their route, if permission is granted by Morristown, will be to link up with the Mud City Loop. All of this will bring more ATV riders to our town, making the streets busier, noisier and more dangerous. According to a story in VTDigger, ATV injuries have more than tripled since 2018 and alcohol appears to be a factor in about half of the adult cases.

The association believes that more ATVs in town will be good for the economy, but is this true? Will this not encourage only one kind of tourism and drive others away, like those who come for a peaceful escape to Vermont’s countryside?

According to Steve Wright, former commissioner of Vermont Fish & Wildlife, the ATV Safety Institute, the not-for-profit subdivision of the national association for ATV manufacturers, said that “ATVs are intended for off road use only. Never operate an ATV on public roads and always avoid paved surfaces. … Public safety, traffic and noise affect a town’s economic stability because each of these things can influence property values and quality of life that drives housing purchases.” 

Please vote yes to repeal the ATV ordinance in Johnson, and as state law allows ATVs on class 4 roads, vote yes to evaluate the environmental impacts of ATVs on class 4 roads in Johnson.

Kirsten Owen lives in Johnson.

(2) comments


Overall this vote to repeal the ATV ordinance article, seems to only cater to what Kristen can make a dollar off of. She only cares about how her rental property is suffering because of what she sees as a nuisance, however if she got on the band wagon and rented her property out to ATVers she would probably see a large increase in rental income, seeing that she is right on the trail.

She also hasn't taken into consideration that she lives off of a class 4 road which will still be able to be used by any off road vehicle not just ATV's. I rode my horses and hiked those trails the ATV's are now using for 30 years. My family's property backs up to that class 4 road and they have ATV's pass their house on the road all spring, summer and fall. They are not ATV enthusiasts, they have not noticed an increase in noise compared to the cars that drive by, or trash or dangerous behavior. The ATV traffic does not imped them from enjoying their property. They have told me saturday's can be a little busy with ATV's but it's not all the time.

Remember how people can put "their spin" on a story, thought or theory. Please do not believe one person's account on something to be the end all be all. I am sorry that Kristen feels the need to try and take away something so many people have worked SO hard for instead of coming up with a better compromise with the club and town.

I hope that any ATV enthusiasts reading this article will go out and VOTE NO! to this repeal. This is OUR town too! Our hobby is not "cheap" we spend money on our machines, we spend money on gas, we spend money on the trucks and trailers that get us to trail heads, we spend money on passes and registration. We spend time working on trails, talking to land owners, picking up trash, enjoying what we created. There are so many good, hardworking, kind people in this ATV community, they would do anything to help each other out and others. There is a reason I got into this sport/hobby and it wasn't for just the fun rides, it was because I got to meet people young, old and in between with the same passion I had. I have met some of my closest friends through riding. Don't take it away from us if you don't understand it, we wouldn't do that to something you were passionate about. So please if you are from the Town of Johnson pass the word along to vote NO for the repeal.


In response to the Guest Perspective in Feb 11 2021 News & Citizen “Johnson needs to repeal its ATV ordinance “

My husband was the GMATV President for just under 5 years

I have been the Secretary of GMATV for close to 5 years and am now I am the club treasurer

We both were on the VASA Board of Directors for the same time period, just under 5 yrs

Mrs Owen states that her request to change the ATV speed limit was refused,

Our GMATV Trails Master & another property owner of Mrs Owens spoke to her on several occasions about her concerns about ATVs

€ the speed limit

Our Trail Master explained to her that the speed limit for ATVs was set to the posted speed limit of the road per the town of Johnson

GMATV purchased Bright Yellow signs for any residents who had concerns about ATV traffic and their speed

These signs stated

> Sensitive Area

ATV speed limit 10Mph and >Sensitive Area ATV speed limit 15MPH

> Slow Down Children and Pets at Play

GMATV has spent well over $10000 in repairs and upgrading the drainage on Codding Hollow Road, Patch Road and Hoag Road

There has been numerous amounts of time and labor in the working with Mrs Owen to help accommodate her concerns by moving the trail 3 times in just the riding season 2020

Mrs Owen adjoining property owners have given GMATV permission to use their land on several occasions to help accommodate Mrs Owen

VASA Trails Master and VASA Executive Director have come to Lamoille County several times with their trails equipment to fix drainage and trails upgrades on the Class 4 roads used for ATV trails.

GMATV is a nonprofit organization and any and all work done by the officers of the club and/or club members is done for free

No one gets paid for their time, only for the monies spent on trails products, like quarry stone used to prevent erosion & mud on the trail systems and Caution taping used on the trails.

Sound Decibels

ATVs are noted to be between 75-100

Motorcycle 78-84

Harley Motorcycle 80-100

The GMATV has participated in the annual Green Up Day for 4 years

As a group we collect around 30-70 bags each year

In 2019, in the town of Johnson alone, 62 bags were collected in roadside garbage

In July 2020, the club purchased 20 Claw Grabbers and several of the club members carry the grabber with them when they ride and collect any garbage they may find in their travels

In response to Mrs Owens statement on Motor Oil slicks in the roads and streams ,

I am confused about where and or how ATVs are polluting the waterways

While I am not a mechanic and or scientist

ATVs do not carry as much oil as a car or truck

The oil capacity of an ATV is 1.5 quarts to 2.5 qts

I can assure you that it is highly impossible for an ATV to leak enough oil to cause any harm to the environment as if an ATV had an oil leak enough to cause an oil slick in a puddle, the ATV engine is ceased and the machine is not going anywhere

ATVs & UTVS are safe

UTVS have seatbelts

ATV/ UTV owners must carry liability insurance

ATV Riders must be wearing helmets per VASA & Vermont State Law starting in the 2021 ATV riding season.

I encourage everyone to go to the Town of Johnson Website and search ATV Ordinance

Johnson residents, please vote NO to the idea of Repelling the Ordinance

ATVs are a way for you and your family, friends and neighbors to get outside, & especially now, with the Covid epidemic and practicing social distancing

Any age can ride in an ATV, several young and older men and women are able to get out and enjoy the FRESH AIR

ATVers will bring income and revenue for the town/village of Johnson.

Sterling Market

The restaurants in Johnson

The Small Businesses owed and operated by our Johnson residents as well as Bed and Breakfast on an ATV trail, I see a great resource of income!!

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